By Arianna Siebert-Timmer (Contributor) – Email

When you think of vinegar, you probably think of salad dressing vinaigrettes, salt and vinegar chips, or maybe (if you’re feeling especially adventurous), that baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano that was so popular in elementary school science fairs. What many people don’t realize is that those applications barely scratch the surface, especially when we talk about apple cider vinegar (ACV).

ACV is one of the most versatile vinegars around. Made from (surprise, surprise) fermented apple cider, it has long been regarded as the duct tape of the natural world, as its uses are seemingly endless. For example, many people claim that drinking one to three servings of two tablespoons of ACV (usually mixed with eight ounces of water) throughout the day is an excellent treatment for a huge variety of conditions, including bad breath, charlie horses, indigestion, hair loss, yellowed teeth, weight management, sore throats, heartburn, diabetes, and acne, to name a few.

And of course, the above doesn’t take into consideration the topical treatments. Perhaps the most extraordinary of them all is the claim that ACV can be used to remove any moles or warts that you may have. This works by taping a small cotton pad (soaked with ACV) to the affected area for a few nights. Within two to seven days, the mole or wart usually falls off on its own, root and all. On the slightly less exciting side, many people also swear by using ACV as a method to help regulate skin and hair pH — a one-to-two mixture of ACV to water applied to your face before bed can help with any problem spots you have been fighting, and a one-to-one mixture of the same applied to your hair in the shower can detangle and hydrate while removing any product build-up you may have.

Of course, this all should be taken with a grain of salt; these treatments are not scientifically proven (despite numerous anecdotal accounts on record of them working), and it is also important to remember that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to health care. So, as with all things, proceed with caution. In this case, so long as the proper dilution is used for the above, there are no side effects — unless you consider smelling like a pickle a side effect, in which case, yes, applying it topically will give you a questionable aroma until you wash it off.

It’s also super convenient (and economical) to get — you can easily pick up a bottle from one of your local supermarkets for less than $10. The brands are relatively comparable, and so long as you select the version that contains the “mother” (a cloudy bit at the bottom of the jar that contains most of the enzymes, proteins, and good bacteria in the batch), you’ll be good to go.